Dear Congressman Matheson:
Thank you for the opportunity to give you input for the federal budget process as we reach the sequestration deadline. I especially appreciate that you continue to reach out to those of us in the 2nd District that you represented for many years before beginning to serve the new 4th District beginning this year. You never know how district boundaries or other opportunities will change, you are wise to continue to be interested in those of us you might once again have reason to work with.
I have been very interested in this topic for a long time, for example, I wrote the following blog post on February 18, 2011 when Congress was considering the budget for what was then the upcoming year. (You can find it at http://dougbeecherstaxandmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/11892-item-in-your-budget-you-think-you.html if you would like to see it in its original context.)
It is given that there are a lot of hard choices here. Anything that is decided tends to put the interests of one person or group of people in preference to those of another, always a difficult decision to make.
Please particularly note the part of my blog post where I present the major budget categories as then proposed by the President in dollars per person. For me it helps put things in perspective.
It is also given there will be an impact to the overall economy if any cuts agreed to are too large. Because of that I especially appreciate your strong desire to reach across the aisle and work to get the leaders on both sides to make some carefully considered movement.
Specific (Simple) Recommendations:
1. Overall, I believe sequestration is a reasonable idea. Let's assume for the moment that each and every federal government program is essential. There is still efficiencies that could be realized in each program. I would hope that the labor portion of those efficiencies could be achieved through attrition rather than furloughs, and believe they can. It is sad that we could not agree on how to do this without sequestration, but believe that overall this is a way we can get started on what needs to be done year by year, in baby steps, for the next decade and beyond.
2. There are individual programs that should be completely eliminated, in addition to implementing efficiencies in all programs. How about trying for one a year, and starting with the Energy Department. At $74.67 per person (at February 2011 proposed levels) this isn't huge, but that's what we need. A little at a time. It is fair to say that the Energy Department has not met the objectives it was set up to accomplish when it was established over 30 years ago. Please work to cut that department by 50% by eliminating it as a separate department along with many of its agencies. The surviving 50% of its budget could be added to the budget of the Interior Department, which would likely absorb the programs that most need to remain.
Thank you for seriously considering my input. I know I am one voice out of many, and each of us do count. I know you personally recognize that and thank you for your service.
La Verkin, Utah